“O God, not this again!”
The controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins was the subject of a symposium last week at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. The mayor of Washington D.C. has mentioned this same controversy several times, suggesting a name change would be necessary if the team ever returns to the District. The Washington Post has chimed in again, as they do from time to time, and even the popular Redskins fan site Hogs Haven brought the subject up yesterday. This controversy is not going to go away, despite polls showing that the vast majority of Native Americans don’t find the name offensive.
Perhaps now is the time to consider a name change. The team is in transition, the last twenty years are mostly best forgotten, and the popularity of Robert Griffin III is bringing new fans to the team.
But let me say this. A name change will be a traumatic experience for the fan base. We’ve grown up rooting for the Redskins, and we are among the most persistent and passionate fans in all of sport. The league will have to give something back in return to make the resulting upheaval worthwhile.
What do the Redskins need right now? What they’re currently short of, namely cap space and draft picks.
So I propose that, in return for the Redskins agreeing to change their name, the NFL should give back the full $36 million cap penalty—restoring all $18 million this year and raising the cap by $9 million in 2014 and 2015—and award two compensatory first round draft picks—placed immediately behind the picks we sent to the Rams—in the 2013 and 2014 draft.
Honestly, it’s a small price for the league to pay in return for some incredible PR. I think the Redskins could ask for more and possibly get it.
But let’s imagine the hypothetical deal I’ve described has been struck, and the Redskins are going to change their name. What are the possibilities?
I think the team should reject out of hand any names that tie in with the increasingly unpopular federal government. I also think they should avoid arbitrary names with no relationship to the team’s history, or stupid ideas like changing the name to just “Skins” or keeping the name but changing the mascot to a potato.
And above all the team colors must remain burgundy and gold. That is non-negotiable.
Taking all of the above into consideration, I think these are the three best (really least bad) options.